By on July 18, 2011

DesignworksUSA is a design consultancy and subsidiary of  the BMW Group. Together with Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), Designworks will create “a new generation of train cars that will enter service by 2017 and deliver a premium ridership experience for its passengers,” says BMW in an emailed statement, and adds that BART “presently operates the oldest fleet of train cars in the USA.”

DesignworksUSA will create both the inside and the outside of the train cars, of which they promise that it “will convey a style and shape with unique signature expression to the exterior passenger information system.”

BART’s mission is to provide commuters with a viable alternative to driving, and they probably thought it’s good to hire someone who knows something about the competition.


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24 Comments on “Ride The BART, Get A Bimmer...”

  • avatar

    Aside from being “old”, is there any functional reason that they have to spend more than “maintenance” money on them?

    On its own, old is not really a reason to replace rolling stock.

    Absent a legitimate reason, and if it could be determined that this was a solution in search of a problem, I would start to look at where this suggestion came from, and then reduce that department’s staffing.

  • avatar

    The BART cars are disgusting. I don’t know who was the genius that deciced that cloth seat covers and carpet was a good idea on a public light rail system, but I always come off of BART feeling like I need to be deloused and get a tetanus shot. I hope the coaches offer more sound proofing than the current ones. If you don’t have ear buds or ear plugs when the train is going under the Bay Bridge, the noise level is OSHA violation grade.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s due to BART’s dilemma of being both a long-haul commuter train and an urban subway. They wanted comfortable seats for the commuters. They’re nasty, though. A year or two ago they finally got rid of the carpet and put in hard floors, and also replaced the seat cloth. It’s a little better now.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s due to BART’s dilemma of being both a long-haul commuter train and an urban subway

        A large part of the problem is that government officials allow public transit to serve as a rolling homeless shelter, which then deters others from using it.

        It wouldn’t be very nice, but a concerted effort needs to be made to keep unhygienic people out of transit cars. It’s fine to provide them with social services, but transportation doesn’t have to be one of them.

      • 0 avatar

        In response to Pch101’s response…

        I ride BART from Fremont to SF every day and the worst part isn’t the homeless (not very many of them during commute hours). It’s smelly professionals. I’d guess they work in computer-related fields, and have no idea that their clothes smell like food ingredients. They are numerous and potent, and it’s the one single thing that makes me wish I could afford parking in SF so I could avoid them.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      BART is pretty nasty and dirty, but noisy enough to be harmful? Not exactly. Irritating for a couple minutes, but it’s not like my ears are ringing after I’ve gone through the Transbay tunnel.

  • avatar

    I’m not interested in riding the BART trains. OSCAR GRANT disapproves of them.

  • avatar

    Given that every single surface in the San Francisco area serves primarily as a urinal for homeless people, putting carpet in these cars was a stroke of genius. The urine- and vomit-soaked carpet greatly increased the amount of time that these fine expressions of urban vitality can be appreciated by commuters. I can’t believe they’re switching over to hard floors.

  • avatar

    “BART’s mission is to provide commuters with a viable alternative to driving, and they probably thought it’s good to hire someone who knows something about the competition.”

    More like “Bart decision makers are some of the most overpaid tax feeders ever to set foot on creation, and have all amassed flaunt-your-progressive-euro-envy cred out of any reasonable proportion. Hence, they are simply incapable of contemplating neither the existence of driveable cars other than BMWs, nor the possibility that BART riders and the tax payers funding them, does not give a rats rear about the flaunted credentials of whoever designed his BART car.”

    Accuracy in media and all…..

  • avatar

    A problem for BART is that the company that built the cars around ’69-’72 (Rohr Inc.) was bought out by Goodrich and now makes aircraft engine components. When I was in the Navy in that period, some sailors were working nights at the Rohr plant making components for the BART rail cars ($246/mo. doesn’t go very far).

    The San Diego Trolley uses cars made in Germany by Siemens, a dominant supplier of commuter light rail cars. BART may be going to BMW for design, but it’s likely they’ll be getting the cars built in Germany, probably by Siemens, rather than have them assembled in the bay area, as the Rohr BART cars were.

  • avatar

    San Francisco is notorious for being overrun with bums. Based on the picture accompanying this article, apparently BART wants to encourage bums to sleep in the stations: the lighting is dim.

    By the way, where is BART getting the cash to buy new cars? I fear the answer is “from me”.

  • avatar
    Wagon Of Fury

    I don’t know where to go authoritatively looking this up, but I will wager a steak dinner that Philadelphia (SEPTA) rolling stock makes anything from BART look shiny and new. There are literally cars from the old Reading Railroad era (think 1940s-50s) refurbished more than once but still in use.

  • avatar

    @WOF: You’re comparing heavy rail passenger cars to light rail commuter cars. At least the Reading RR cars have been refurbished, although the basic body shell doesn’t lend itself to much modification. SEPTA might have been better off rebuilding the interiors to resemble their 19th century counterparts.

    I first saw the BART cars in ’78 and most recently in 2006, and they were basically the original interior and layout. Both could be updated to great effect, but cost of maintenance and problems with reliability of the light rail chassis are probably what’s causing BART to seek new rolling stock.

  • avatar

    Life imitates Top Gear. On this week’s episode, they turned a Jaguar coupe and an Audi R8 into trains.

  • avatar

    The most interesting thing about BART is when you contrast it to the service that connects San Francisco to the rest of the peninsula all the way down to Gilroy, which is CalTrain. While CalTrain uses real trains and passenger cars, and has problems of its own, the differences in the seating accommodations is striking. While BART cars generally smell bad (this used to be due to the carpets and seat padding), CalTrain cars do not generally have this problem. (I remember the seats being padded, not sure if they ever had carpet.) As far as my experiences went, CalTrain in general does NOT have a problem with homeless sheltering. I attribute this mostly to the fact that there is a conductor roaming around that checks tickets. BART is supposed to have transit cops on board which I have never seen, except on the news when incidents such as the Oscar Grant one occur…
    Both systems seem to be running at a deficit and need to be subsidized (as does much if not all public transport in the US at least), which is in my opinion due to poor planning at the stations, i.e. there is often not a conventient, quick connection to whereever you need to end up at.
    If the BARTcars replacements are not due to obsolescence of the original rolling stock, then this is yet another complete waste of money and yet another reason that I am thankful to have left California and the Bay Area in general.

  • avatar

    Chicago’s oldest revenue cars date to 1968. They and later orders were built by Budd with other series from Boeing and Morrison Knudsen. The newest series are finally switching to AC traction and are built by Bombardier, which should finally replace the oldest cars.

    I would bet there are bids from Japan as well as Europe and Canada for the new BART cars.

  • avatar

    And another thing: “will convey a style and shape with unique signature expression to the exterior passenger information system.”

    Cut through the bafflegab, and you see they are re-inventing the wheel. There are similar transit systems all over the world. If we agree just for the sake of argument that there’s something wrong with the current BART cars, then the question becomes “Why reinvent the wheel?” Wouldn’t it be smart and cheap to use one of the better designs already in production? Oops, pardon me. I forgot BART is enjoying the delicious pleasure of spending other people’s money.

  • avatar

    There are probably a lot of BART riders who manage their time by reading TTAC since they’re not driving.

  • avatar

    The only reason BART cars are so old and haven’t been replaced is because BART operates on a non-standard gauge of 5 feet 6 inches. All other American transit systems and railways operate on 4 feet 8 inches making replacing the BART cars a difficult task because of the customization that is required. As to why the BART commission chose to use the large gauge remains a mystery because it doesn’t contribute a large difference to the actual interior width of the cars.

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